I’m a big believer in using a timer to motivate me to work quickly and get stuff done. I have a seriously full calendar but a relatively free morning today so I thought I’d see if I could some clutter spots and other small tasks taken care of.
So I pulled out my phone and asked Siri to set a timer for five minutes. I did it seven times. Here’s what I managed to accomplish in just seven five-minute blocks:
That’s a lot of distracting clutter busted in just 35 minutes!
Because I apparently have no shame, I’ll share with you that cluttered counter and how it looked five minutes later.
It’s not amazing, but it’s a heck of a lot better for a really small investment of time and effort. (This is a room I don’t spend much time in, but I’d been turning a blind eye for so long!)
Your turn. Do you have a spare five minutes? What can you do in that time to make a difference in your home?
Last week, I took an ICD tele class on Personal Kanban for people with ADHD. I was familiar with personal kanban, having tried it out myself a few times over the last seven years. I was happy to hear Jim Benson, who gave the talk, state that while there are plenty of platforms in which to do kanban digitally, he recommends that people start out with Post-It® Notes and a whiteboard, like I’ve always done. The overriding principles with kanban are (1) visualize your work and (2) limit your works in progress. Here’s my August 2010 post about my experience with personal kanban.
I’ve found it to be simple and effective (though I haven’t dug into all the theory behind it) and thought I’d share my thoughts on it. It seems to me that the system is particularly good for visual people, who like to keep things in their face.
Here’s how it’s worked for me:
I took a 30” x 24” white board and divided it (using dry-erase markers) into three columns:
I did a brain dump of my tasks, one per Post-it note (I use 3” x 3” Post-its) and put them in the Backlog section. I add tasks as they come to me.
When it’s time to plan my day, I peruse the backlog, selecting up to five tasks to put in my Doing column. I never allow more than five tasks in my Doing column.
When I finish those tasks, the Post-it moves to the Done column. At the end of the day, I remove the Done tasks, placing some back in Backlog if the task wasn’t completely finished.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It seems very simple to me, though when you start digging around on the Internet, there’s lots of theory and jargon behind it.
Here’s today’s board, at the beginning of the day, after I took off my Dones and figured out the day’s Doing:
Daily tasks are stashed in the lower right area.
I’ve found some great benefits to this system:
Every now and then the Backlog section gets really crowded. When that happens, I follow the suggestion of Jim Benson, the personal kanban guru, and do a Time Capsule in which I pluck off a bunch of small tasks, put those notes on my desk, and power through them. That’s very effective. If I spend an hour or so a week doing that, lots of little things get done (and off my board).
The biggest drawback, so far, to this system (for me) has been the lack of portability. I’m accustomed to keeping a to-do list with me (like my Autofocus list, one of the systems that preceded this effort). When I’m out and about, I have to jot down the task and remember to put it on my board.
I just today downloaded a personal kanban iPhone app called iKan, which may solve the problem. I don’t like the the idea of having both electronic and physical boards, so I envision the iKan for me to capture tasks. But I haven’t even played with it yet. I’ll report back.
If I were into electronic task management, I could use an electronic personal kanban system, like LeanKit Kanban. But the physical one is working nicely for me.
As I posted back in 2013 in a post called there’s no such thing as a free book, I have no shortage of books on my beloved Kindle Paperwhite. (I still love it and I’m still using the same device I bought in December 2012!)
Because it’s so easy to download free Kindle books, thanks to Bookbub and my local public libraries, I have hundreds of books on my Kindle. Unfortunately, the user interface of on the Amazon website under “Your Content and Devices” offers only two ways to organize my vast library. One is to sort it by Title, Author, or Acquired Date. The other is to put books into collections. Neither is sufficient, in my opinion.
My problem would arise when I finished a book and wanted to figure out which one to start next. If I looked at the Amazon site, I would see one screen of books, usually the ones most recently acquired. I tried making collections, but that was cumbersome and less than helpful.
Then I thought about Evernote, which I already use to I organize virtually everything else in my life. Eureka!
I created a notebook called Kindle Library. In the notebook I entered about 30 books from my library that I was fairly sure that I wanted to read. Each book gets a note. The title of the note is the book’s title. The body of the note contains the author and the date I acquired it.
Here’s a screenshot of the most recent notes in my library:
I use tags abundantly to make it easy for me to figure out which book to read next. I have tags for genre and for favorite authors. And I use a tag called Next Up for books I know I’ll be anxious to read. I tag library books so I can try to read them before they expire. I also tag a book Read once I’ve read it.
I’ve created the habit of adding a book to the Kindle Library notebook as soon as I acquire it. That is the key to the success of this system.
I read a lot and I try not to spend a lot of money on books. (Apologies to the authors out there.) With my daily Bookbub email, I try to only consider downloading free books. And lately I’ve been resisting even those because I know they will just clutter up my Kindle library (and the device itself).
Using Evernote for my Kindle library has taken away the slight stress that my Kindle had introduced into my life. Now when I finish a book (I try to read a book a week), it’s easy for me to pick the next one. The key, again, is creating a note for each book as soon as I download it.
Once again Evernote comes to my rescue!
My dad comfortable back at home.
I recently scheduled a one-week trip that had me in Portland, Oregon, for the wedding of dear friends, followed by five days in Walla Walla, Washington (a 4.5-hour drive from Portland) visiting my father.
Things didn’t go quite as planned. I had a marvelous time at the wedding on Saturday and headed to Walla Walla on Sunday as scheduled. But I discovered on the way that my father had fallen in his condo, where he lives alone, and had been unable to get up for 16 hours. That’s scary business for an 86-year-old. Fortunately, he was able to get up and get help and he was driven to the emergency room. I arrived at the ER about 30 minutes after he did.
Suddenly, the tenor of my trip changed. I quickly extended my day of departure from Friday to Monday. I spent five days hanging out with and advocating for my father at the hospital. On Thursday, the day before I was originally scheduled to leave, he was transferred to a skilled nursing facility for rehab. He did so well there that he stayed only a week. (The original estimate was one to two weeks.) When Monday came, the day of my rescheduled departure, it was very hard for me to envision leaving him without my assistance in handling his home safety visit and transitioning back into his home. I ended up extending my stay again, by a week.
Looking back, the decision seemed like a no brainer. Of course I should stay. But at the time, it was difficult. I had to reschedule about a half dozen client appointments (some of which involved rescheduling teams). I had to adjust my flights and figure out what to do with my rental car (the original plan had me driving the car back to Portland for my flight home), all while trying not to rack up a huge bill. I also was feeling bad about being away from home, where my husband, Barry, was doing all the care for our poodle, Bix, in blistering hot weather.
The minute I made the decision to stay and started changing plans, I felt relieved. Thankfully, I didn’t take too big a hit financially and my clients and team members were, of course, understanding. And Barry was great about it.
I am so glad that I have the flexibility to make adjustments like these. Nothing else I could have done at that time was more important than helping my father stay safe, continue his remarkable recovery, and know how loved he is. At his age (and after a fall-related concussion) it was hard for him to understand everything the medical professionals were telling him, so I was glad I was there to explain things and ask questions on his behalf.
When I left Walla Walla after two weeks, I felt comfortable that my father was safe and could take care of himself. We were both overwhelmed and gratified by the show of concern and support from his many friends. So I’m feeling okay about being back in St. Louis.
Sometimes when life throws things at us, we have to make some tough decisions and shift our priorities. In this case, I’m really glad I followed my gut.
Oh, and by the way, even though my trip swelled from seven to 17 days, I still only wore half of the clothes I brought in my suitcase! Thankfully, I had easy access to laundry facilities.
I wrote this post in 2014 and I’m happy to report that I’ve managed to make doing genealogy research part of my morning routine so I’ve succeeded in finding time to feed my soul. If there’s something beneficial you’d like to start doing regularly, this post might help you find a way to find time.
I love doing genealogy research. It’s a fairly big part of my life—I blog twice weekly (most weeks) at my genealogy blog, Organize Your Family History, so I actually think about my family research quite a lot.
But I don’t actually research as often as I’d like. And that’s a shame, because researching my family history feeds my soul.
We’re all busy with the daily activities of life. Throw kids, aging parents, demanding work, needy spouses or sick pets into the mix and sometimes it feels like we don’t have any time to do those things that really nourish us.
I believe that doing those things is really important for self care. So how can we find the time?
Time management is all about managing priorities. If you put everyone’s needs before your own, all you’ll be doing is putting out fires. And that’s not good for you. So I think it’s important to figure out little pockets of time that you can set aside as “me time.” During that special time, you can do that thing that keeps you going and that feeds your soul.
How can you find some pockets of time when you’re already so busy?
The list could go on. Perhaps you just need to be a little creative.
If you’re saying to yourself, I can’t take time out for myself while my house is messy…that’ll have to wait until I get organized then please stop. It breaks my heart when people stop their messy homes from allowing them to live. Sure, work on your home, bit by bit (or hire someone to help you), but reward your efforts with some soul-nourishing activity.
Our lives our important and they should be as happy and fulfilling as possible. I’m a firm believer that we can take control of our time and do those things that bring fulfillment.
Can you make some time for yourself this weekend?
Back on June 1, I wrote about the power of the 30-day challenge and created an ambitious list of eight things I wanted to do every day for 30 days.
I just looked back on that list and thought I’d share whether I was able to do all eight things for 30 days. In a word, no. But I did pretty well! Here’s what I accomplished:
Here’s what I didn’t manage to accomplish from my list:
I feel pretty good about what I was able to get done. But having such a long list of things I wanted to do every day is a great example of overreaching and setting up unrealistic goals.
I’ve tried (and failed) the 30-day plank challenge in the past but the reason I was successful this time (and I’m still planking) is that my friend and colleague Julie Bestry of Best Results Organizing read my June 1 post, offered me planking accountability and started a Facebook group for planking. She’s been amazing. I’m confident that there is no way I would have worked my way up to holding a plank for five minutes at month’s end if it weren’t for Julie and the Facebook accountability.
So the lessons I learned are twofold:
My routine got thrown out of whack by a trip to visit my father and some time spend in the hospital with him because he fell. So I’m all discombobulated. But I hope to get back on track as soon as I slip back into my routines at home. (Thanks to Plank Constant, I’m still planking daily, though!)
On July 1, 2016, I embarked on what I thought would be a year-long experiment with Project 333 the minimalist clothing project created by Courtney Carver and followed by people all over the world. I’d heard Courtney speak in St. Louis on her Tiny Wardrobe Tour and was inspired to give it a try.
At the beginning of each quarter this past year, I switched out my 33-item collection for a total of four collections. (I blogged about it every step of the way.) The clothes I own but aren’t included in the collection reside in three bins in my basement.
It’s been a year (already!) and I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the experiment. I absolutely loved having fewer clothes to choose from. I have come to recognize that I benefit greatly from limiting my choices. It makes decision-making easier. It saves me time. This is true in many aspects of my life, but probably most when it comes to getting dressed.
Here are the benefits I recognize from having a tiny wardrobe from which to dress every day:
The list goes on.
So what are the down sides to having only 33 articles of clothing from which to choose?
As I said, when I started I thought I’d do this for a year. And guess what? I’m sticking with it. I was thrilled to switch out my collection again on July 1. (I figured you guys are probably sick of looking at my collection of 33 of pretty much the same clothes, so I didn’t bother taking pictures this time.)
One thing I found interesting was there were quite a few clothes I didn’t wear the whole year. Before I started Project 333, I did a thorough decluttering of my clothes, keeping only the gems (or so I thought). On July 1, I went through the bins in the basement and easily removed about a dozen articles of clothing. It felt good to free myself of those clothes.
So I’m sticking with the simplicity of living with fewer clothes in my closet (and basement). I’ve worked with quite a few clients this year with huge wardrobes that are causing their closets to burst at the seams. It’s been interesting to share with them how easy it is to get dressed when you have fewer, rather than more, clothes. I hope to keep walking the walk as well as talking the talk!
Thank you, Courtney Carver!